SaaS content marketing: The ultimate (but simple) guide

SaaS content marketing is a powerful growth lever. Learn how to create a SaaS content marketing strategy that lets you stand out from your competitors.

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Omid G
SaaS content marketing: The ultimate (but simple) guide

I grew a SaaS company’s SEO traffic from 25k visitors/month to 250k visitors/month from content marketing. That’s a 900% increase. I’m going to lay out exactly how I did it in this post so you don’t have to go through years of struggling to figure it out like I did.

This will be one of those articles that you read and refer to often. We are about to go over what content to create, how to create it, how to think about distribution, how to track ROI, how to find outsourced writers, and more.

I decided to dump years of knowledge into this mega article because it's something I wish my younger self had to reference.

There’s a lot of content around the web on what SaaS content marketing is and how to do it. But the issue is that many of these videos and blog posts are quite vague, and try to create a one-size fits all solution.

The thing is, there’s a lot of nuance.

It’s not an answer most content marketers, or business owners, want to hear. But, there are frameworks you can follow to help guide you to create a content marketing strategy specific to your SaaS website.

‍This article gives you those frameworks.‍

I’ve worked as a content marketer in SaaS for the past six years, and it wasn’t until the last two years where I really started to figure out what I was doing. That means for four years, I just kept trying and testing to see what worked.

In the first four years, I got good at writing informational content, case studies, white papers, landing pages, and all that. But the thing is content marketers are not supposed to be writers. We’re content marketers not content writers.

In my previous roles as a content marketing manager, I was creating most of the content myself. But content marketing is about being a marketer and putting on your growth hat. How do you actually create content that you know people will find and resonate with?

And not only that, how will you turn website traffic from these visitors into paying customers?

Because let’s face it, business owners really decide to invest in content marketing because they believe it will increase their revenue. If a company is not generating revenue from content marketing, they will look elsewhere to invest their time and resources.

What is SaaS content marketing?

SaaS content marketing is a powerful strategy SaaS businesses can use to attract and find their target customers. When done correctly, B2B SaaS companies can organically attract the right customers without needing to spend money on advertising.

The content marketing channels you use for a SaaS (software-as-a-service) company will rely on your business. However, the best place to start is with your website. In this article, I’ll show you how to think about what type of content to post on your website. From there, you can then dive into other means of distributing the content on your website through SEO (search engine optimization), ads, sponsorships, email marketing, and social media.

Okay, enough of me rambling. Let’s get into crafting your content marketing strategy for your SaaS company.

Get your pen and notepad ready. I dumped a large portion of my knowledge into this article.

11 steps to creating your SaaS content marketing strategy

Here are the steps you should follow when crafting your content marketing strategy:

  1. Defining your business goals
  2. Gathering customer intel
  3. Creating a content lifecycle strategy
  4. Types of content to create
  5. Doing keyword research (the right way)
  6. Setting up your website for success
  7. Conversions
  8. Distributing your content
  9. Creating a system around OKRs
  10. ROI and tracking
  11. Scaling your content team

Okay, let’s dive a bit deeper into each one.

1. Defining your business goals

The first step of any content marketing strategy is to define your businesses goals, then set OKRs around those goals.

At the end of the day, your business goal is probably tied heavily to revenue. You need paying subscribers to fuel your business.

For the remainder of this article, I’m going to use a hypothetical SaaS company to give you an example of how I would craft the content strategy. Let’s call our company ReachThem — a SaaS product that lets you send cold outreach emails.

The ReachThem founding team has a goal of hitting $10M in ARR (annual recurring revenue). They know content is important and hire a content marketing manager to help them create a content marketing operation.

I’m going to assume this is all we know. Goal setting is nuanced and it’s going to come from a skilled leader that can help.

What we do know is revenue is the goal. So when we move on to creating our content marketing strategy and OKRs, we need to keep this in mind.

When crafting your content marketing strategy from complete scratch, you always want to start at the bottom of the funnel and make your way up to the top. This is why we first start with business goals and revenue — they affect the bottomline of a business.

But, before we can start creating content, we need to understand who we are creating for.

2. Gathering customer intel

Gathering customer intel basically means creating buyer personas to understand your target audience. If you already have data on existing customers, or a product marketing manager to help, then this part should be fairly simple.

If possible, ask someone on your team to help you look into your highest LTV (lifetime value) users and study who these people are. Chances are, your SaaS product resonates the most with these people as they continue to pay for a subscription.

If you have a product marketing manager on your team, you can also set up a meeting with them to figure out who your target customers are and what their pain points are.

If you don’t have access to LTV data or a product marketer, your next best bet is to get in contact with your customer support team. Study customer support tickets coming in and set up meetings with customers to better understand what problems they are encountering.

After gathering all of this information, you’ll want to create customer profiles. In the our example of the cold outreach tool, ReachThem, we can think about it like this:

  • What is their role: Founder at a marketing agency
  • What industry are they in: Marketing
  • Where do they find content to learn from: Google, YouTube, Twitter, Webinars, online communities
  • Why would they use a cold outreach tool: To send outbound emails to potential clients

Now that you have this information, you can give the profile a name to easily remember it. In the case above, we can call this person Melanie. Melanie, the marketing agency founder.

However, you may find that you have many different profiles. For example, you could also have:

  • What is their role: Affiliate manager at a skincare company
  • What industry are they in: Skincare
  • Where do they find content to learn from: Google, YouTube, Twitter, newsletters, online communities
  • Why would they use a cold outreach tool: To send emails to invite beauty influencers to join their affiliate program

In this case, we have a completely different person with a (somewhat) different use case. We can call this person Alex.

Okay, let’s do one more.

  • What is their role: Recruiting manager at an engineering recruiting firm
  • What industry are they in: Engineering, recruiting
  • Where do they find content to learn from: LinkedIn, Google
  • Why would they use a cold outreach tool: To find engineering candidates for tech companies

In this other case, we have Rachel the recruiter who needs a tool to find potential candidates for her clients.

So now we have three different profiles — Melanie, Alex, and Rachel — all who need a cold outreach tool, but for different reasons.

Write down all of your customer profiles, remember to look at any existing data if you get stuck, and put these somewhere you can refer to often.

I like to create sticky notes and place them on the corner of my computer monitor so I can always remember who I need to be creating content for. Yes, I’m a little weird like that.

3. Creating a content lifecycle strategy

Now that we know our business goals, and our target audience profiles, we can get into the good stuff. This is where we’ll map out all the content we need to produce.

When it comes to SaaS content marketing, we want to make sure our website really speaks to our profiles and converts well. We need to lay the foundations so any time we drive (qualified) traffic to our website, we know we have a good chance of getting a conversion.

You can think of content as going through a customer journey, or stages of a content lifecycle.

Stages of content marketing

The “who I am and what I do”

This is the phase of your company that basically tells everyone what your product is and what it does. This is your homepage, product/feature pages, and company updates on your blog.

Ramp home page with feature pages in navbar
Ramp does a great job with their homepage and product feature pages.
The “how to use me”

This is the educational phase where you show people how to use your product. This is your “resource center.” This can be in the form of a different part of your site, like how Semrush has Semrush Academy. Or, like how Webflow has Webflow University.

This is the content you need to activate your new users and make sure they keep paying for a subscription.

Semrush courses
Semrush offers a lot of free courses.
The “why you should use me”

This is the scaling phase where you focus on growth and finding your target customers. This is where you go after non-branded keywords on your blog, use case pages, and your competitors. This can be in the form of inspirational list posts, “how to” posts (not directly related to your product), vs pages, and customer highlights/case studies.

HelloSign HR onboarding use case page
HelloSign has some great use case pages.
Zapier's blog
Zapier has a great blog with a wide blend of different articles.

The content lifecycle diagram

Next, you want to create a diagram that shows the content lifecycle that you intend to cover. Here is an example of one I made and used to help a SaaS company scale pretty quickly:

Content lifecycle diagram
A content lifecycle diagram for our fake company, ReachThem.

You might want to zoom in.

You’ll want to create content from right to left (with exception of Referral and possibly Retention sections).

I know, the diagram looks like it should be read from left to right, but you need to first start at the bottom of the funnel (Retention + Activation). That way when you do create top of the funnel (Awareness) content, you’ll give website visitors a chance to find content that makes them convert (more on that later).

One misconception I personally had early on was that if someone landed on an inspirational blog post in the Awareness stage, they would then browse through the rest of my website and find the lower funnel content.

This does happen, but not often.

When it comes to SaaS, especially in B2B, most people use Google to find content, not your website. So you need to make sure that all of your content on your website is SEO optimized.

This way, when someone Googles an inspiration piece of content, they can discover you. When someone Googles a piece of content towards the middle or lower part of the funnel, they can also find you.

Assume people will be using Google to find your content, but create content for each stage of the funnel so there’s always a link people can click on in Google search.

If you need some more clarity on the type of content to create for each stage, SEO for the Rest of Us has a great guide on search intent that looks like this:

Levels of awareness diagram

Okay, now that we have a general framework for the stages of awareness to create content for, let’s figure out what types of pages to create on our site.

4. Types of content to create

When creating content, remember that we want to start at the lowest part of the funnel, then move up from there — did I say that already?

Here are four types of content to create:

Use case pages

One of the first things you should create on your website, after your standard product feature pages, is a use case section. These pages essentially tell visitors what your product is for and who it’s for.

Here is how ClickUp, a project management tool, does it:

ClickUp use case pages

In the case of our fake company, ReachThem, we can create use case pages with URLs that look like this:

  • Recruitment (https://www.reachthem.com/for/recruitment-outreach)
  • Client outreach (https://www.reachthem.com/for/client-outreach)
  • Influencer outreach (https://www.reachthem.com/for/influencer-outreach)

We want to have URLs like this because it’s good SEO practice. Some companies go as far as having URLs for each use case page look like this:

  • Recruitment (https://www.reachthem.com/recruitment-outreach-tool)
  • Client outreach (https://www.reachthem.com/client-outreach-tool)
  • Influencer outreach (https://www.reachthem.com/influencer-outreach-tool)

Rather than being in our subfolder called “for,” which we use for use case to claim that “ReachThem is for X,” we can also put them on our root domain and try to rank for terms like “recruitment outreach tool,” “client outreach tool,” and “influencer outreach tool.”

The way you structure your URLs will depend on the CMS you use (I recommend Webflow for SaaS companies) and how you want your user experience to be. If you have all of your use case pages in a subfolder, like /for/, you can then create a central landing page on:

  • https://www.reachthem.com/for

That will give you an opportunity show all of your use cases and link out to each individual page.

This is generally a better approach for user experience. I won’t go too deep in this article on how to structure these pages for SEO, but I did write a guide on how to write SEO blog posts if you want to check out!

Regardless, map out all of your use case pages you need to create and get those on your site first.

VS pages

The next part of our content creation journey is to create content for those that are almost ready to purchase. Remember, bottom of the funnel content first.

Chances are, there are many other tools like yours already available — call them, your competitors.

An easy SEO tactic is to create “vs” or “alternative” pages.

There are a lot of outreach tools on the market, in fact I included a handful of my favorite here.

So let’s make sure that when someone is trying to make a purchasing decision, and comparing us to our competitors, we have the opportunity to speak to those people.

For our example, ReachThem, some popular competitors can include Mailshake, Outreach, and Lemlist.

So we’ll want to start creating VS pages, similar to our use case pages, to target these competitors.

It can look something like this:

  • ReachThem vs Mailshake (https://www.reachthem.com/vs/mailshake)
  • ReachThem vs Outreach (https://www.reachthem.com/vs/outreach)
  • ReachThem vs Lemlist (https://www.reachthem.com/vs/lemlist)

Now, whenever someone searches for “ReachThem vs X,” or “X vs ReachThem,” we can show up in the top results and give us an opportunity to persuade a potential customer to use us instead of a competitor.

Later, we can even create blog posts that target keywords like “[your competitor] alternatives.” That would look something like:

  • https://www.reachthem.com/blog/mailshake-alternatives

And then, we could link out to our VS pages from that blog post. But more on blog posts in a sec.

Similar to our use case pages, it’s good to have these in a subfolder like /vs/ so that we can create a central landing page on:

  • https://www.reachthem.com/vs

This can then link out to all of our competitor VS pages.

This subfolder structure will also allow us to easily duplicate page templates to add new competitors as they come up.

Here are a few real examples in the wild:

Webflow vs WordPress page
Webflow’s “Webflow vs WordPress” page
HubSpot vs Salesforce page
HubSpot’s “HubSpot vs Salesforce” page
Asana vs Trello page
Asana’s “Asana vs Trello” page

You’ll notice the last two examples have URLs like /comparisons/ and /compare/. While these are okay, people don’t really search things like this. When people search for comparisons between two or more companies they use the word “vs.” Which is why it’s probably best to be more literal for SEO and place these VS pages in a subfolder like /vs/.

One thing to note as well, these VS pages may not get a ton of traffic like blog posts would, but they convert really well. Remember the “levels of awareness” diagram above? The lower down the funnel we go, the lower the traffic but the higher the conversion rates.

This is because the intent behind searching for terms like “your company vs a competitor” means that the person is ready to make a purchasing decision. But of course, someone has to know you exist in the first place which is why the traffic will be lower.

Blog posts

Next up are blog posts, my favorite. When I said I took a SaaS company from 25k unique visitors a month to 250K visitors/month from SEO, the majority of the traffic came from blog posts.

This part will have a lot of nuance, as each company will be different.

What a lot of SaaS companies do is post product updates and things related to their company on their blog. While these are important and nice to have, they won’t drive a lot of unique visitors to your website.

If we only talk about our company, the only people that will read our blog posts are those that already know we exist. We want new people to know we exist.

Plus, let’s be honest, when’s the last time you browsed through a company blog to read product updates? I’m not hating, but this is where our growth mindset has to come to play.

Blogging is still very much alive in 2022, but it’s not how it was in 2006.

Back then, people read blogs because they loved a particular blog and binged through the content. And that’s maybe true for some blogs today, but not most.

Today, most people land on a blog post from a company because they are Googling a subject that the blog has written about. Most people today land on individual blog posts — be it from Google SEO or social media.

So with that in mind, let’s cast our net as far as we can. Let’s create a full-blown media arm on our website.

You’re going to need some keyword research skills here to identify topics to go after. Your ability to rank high for a particular keyword will rely heavily on your domain authority, if you’ve covered related topics before, and how well you are able to explain the topic.

On top of that, you’ll want to use a content optimization platform like Clearscope or Surfer SEO to make sure that all of your content outlines are keyword rich and SEO optimized.

I’ll explain more in the keyword research section. See you in a bit.

Social media time!

Social media posts

Another great content marketing strategy is to post on social media. I’m not going to lie, I’m more of an SEO over social media type of guy when it comes to SaaS. But I have seen the power of social media firsthand.

Social media is a great way to build a community around your brand. The key to a successful social media strategy is to truly understand the algorithm of the platform you are creating for. I’m going to discuss this in greater detail in the Distribution section of this article.

For now, I’m just going to say the do’s and don’ts:

  • Do: Repurpose your existing content on social media in a useful and entertaining way that plays to the platforms algorithm
  • Don’t: Just share blog posts and company updates on social media. People on social media don’t care about that stuff.
  • Do: Create content just for the sake of entertainment. Valuable information, memes, educational videos — these do well.
  • Don’t: Promote yourself directly
  • Do: Create content specific to the format for each social media platform
  • Don’t: Post the exact same thing on every social media platform

As mentioned, I’ll explain more later in this article. If you want some inspiration on some companies that do social media marketing right, check out Webflow (Twitter), Refine Labs (LinkedIn), and Slidebean (YouTube).

5. Doing keyword research (the right way)

Keyword research is at the core of your content marketing strategy, especially if you’re focused on organic search.

My favorite keyword research tool to use is Ahrefs, but there are many great one out there as well. Semrush is a close competitor to Ahrefs, and you can use a tool like Keysearch (affiliate link) if you’re on a tight budget. I personally started my SEO journey using Keysearch and still use it today.

I like to have at least two different keyword research tools to compare the data and make better decisions — Ahrefs as my primary discovery tool and Keysearch to double check search volume and difficulty.

Ahrefs is great because it will show you a wide variety of keyword recommendations that are pulled straight from Google — like People Also Ask and People Also Search For keywords.

Regardless of the tool you use, you need something that can help you find topics that make sense for your audience (and that are fairly easy to rank for).

Open up your favorite keyword research tool and type in a term related to your product. In our fake company example, this could be something like “outreach” or “email outreach.”

Ahrefs matching terms
Results from “email outreach” with Matching terms selected in Ahrefs.

Now, we’ll want to add modifiers/filters to find keywords for our different stages of the content lifecycle/buyer’s journey.

Some modifiers I like to use include: How, why, what, examples, example, tool, tools, sample, samples, best, software, top, guide, template, tutorial, course, courses, inspiration, help.

Paste these modifiers into your keyword research tool.

Keywords in Ahrefs filtered by modifiers
Keywords in Ahrefs filtered by modifiers.

Now we can browse through, or export, this entire list and begin creating content to go after each keyword. Some keywords may be repetitive so you’ll want to have an SEO expert with a good eye tell you which ones you should target and how to prioritize them.

In Ahrefs, you can also mess with the KD (keyword difficulty) score to find easier terms to go after. But, depending on the topic, this will drastically lower the number of keyword results. Nevertheless, it’s a good way to find some easy keywords.

Now, you can rinse and repeat by changing the main keyword for other things your SaaS product may do. I just showed you “email outreach” as the head term, but we could also explore others like “influencer marketing,” “recruitment,” or “affiliate marketing.”

Going through this process, and creating a large list of keywords, will allow us to uncover topics (in demand) for all of our different use cases.

As for the 900% increase in traffic example I mentioned at the beginning, I did this for the Webflow blog. With the help of mostly freelance writers, a few people internally, some guest contributors in the web design space, and myself, we launched over 300 blog posts in 24 months on the Webflow blog. Here’s how that turned out:

Webflow blog SEO growth graph

We ended up ranking really well for a lot of keywords:

Keywords and pages ranking for the Webflow blog

If there’s one thing I would have done differently with Webflow it would have been publishing more blog posts. We published about two to three articles a week. But if we had done four to five articles a week the results could have easily doubled.

You live and learn.

You can also see from the screenshot above, these URLs are super clean. When creating blog posts, you want to make sure that your URL is only targeting the desired keyword you’re going after.

I often see many company blogs post articles with the URL being the exact same as the entire title of the blog post. No, you want to make sure your URL is super clean so Google can better understand what your piece of content is about.

For our fake company example, I would launch blog posts like:

  • Title: 10 best outreach tools to try in 2022
  • URL: https://www.reachthem.com/blog/best-outreach-tools
  • Title: 20 influencer outreach templates that actually get responses
  • URL: https://www.reachthem.com/blog/inflencer-outreach-templates
  • Title: How to write an outreach email (good and bad examples)
  • URL: https://www.reachthem.com/blog/how-to-write-an-outreach-email
  • Title: 10 best recruitment strategies for hiring top talent in 2022
  • URL: https://www.reachthem.com/blog/recruitment-strategies

Notice how some of these are directly related to our fake outreach company. But the last one is just a general post for recruitment teams because we know that our target audience profile, Rachel the recruiter, may be searching for something like this.

This is why customer intel is so important. You want to really understand who you are speaking to so you can create resources to help them in their career.

You also want your blog post titles to be under 60 characters. This way, they don’t get cut off in Google search results.

On the topic of formatting, you’ll also notice how each blog post is in a subfolder similar to our use case and vs page examples.

Some will claim that you want your blog posts to be on the root of your domain and not in a subfolder like /blog/. But there’s no strong evidence that states this is a better move for SEO. Some media blogs put their articles on the root domain such as https://reachthem.com/how-to-write-an-outreach-email, while others put them in a subfolder.

I like the subfolder approach because it creates a cleaner site architecture that is better for overall user experience. It also lets you create a blog homepage on https://www.reachthem.com/blog that allows you to link out to individual blog posts — this is good for interlinking.

You also want a consistent hierarchy. I’ve seen some company blogs have a blog homepage that lives on https://www.example.com/blog and then they have individual blog posts live on https://www.example.com/post/example-blog-post. If your blog homepage lives on /blog/ make sure your blog posts also live on /blog/. Be consistent.

A consistent site hierarchy helps Google scan through your website easier and also improves your overall user experience.

Okay, that’s it.

Now you’re probably wondering, do these blog posts actually drive conversions? We’ll get into that in the Conversions section of this article.

6. Setting up your website for success

This part will be fairly short, and I considered removing it altogether. But I feel there are some important things to mention.

This article is not about creating a website, and I already mentioned some things earlier about URL structures.

But let me quickly give you some recommendations for setting up your website content:

  • Make sure any piece of content on your website can be accessed with no more than three clicks from your homepage. As in, when I’m on your homepage, I should be able to read a blog post by only having to click something no more than three times.
  • Make sure your navbar links out to your use case pages, vs pages, blog posts, and resource hub. Check out HubSpot’s navbar for inspiration.
  • Create clear URLs using subfolders: /for/ for use cases, /vs/ for competitor pages, and /blog/ for blog posts.
  • Make sure your footer links out to all of your content, repeat what you have in your navbar and consider adding even more. Check out ClickUp’s footer for inspiration.
  • Make sure you set canonical tags. Check out Moz’s guide for what they are and how to set them up. You generally set these in your CMS.
  • Make sure you have schema data on your website. Check out this guide for what it is and how to set it up. You add these custom code snippets in the code of your web pages.

Okay, that’s it. I told you it would be short.

7. Conversions

But now you’re probably wondering, do these blog posts directly drive revenue? The answer is kinda.

Writing dozens, even hundreds of blog posts, allows you to continually show up in search results for topics related to your industry and niche. This creates brand awareness and affinity.

Attribution can be tricky because not everyone who lands on a blog post will go and sign up for your SaaS product. Sure, some will depending on what level of awareness your blog post lands in. But most people search for stuff on Google to find solutions to problems they have. Once they find a solution, they bounce.

But, there are ways to help increase conversions of blog posts. Call this part CRO (conversion rate optimization).

Throughout the years, I’ve found that educational resources do really well for conversions. If you’re a SaaS company, you should seriously consider creating free courses, templates, and an educational resource hub. This is why you should start at the bottom of the funnel. Because when you do reach the top of the funnel part of your blog post strategy, you already have resources you can link out to.

For example, we could have a blog post that goes after the keyword “email outreach examples.” The article could be titled something like 50 amazing email outreach examples that work in 2022.

Then, in that article, instead of having a CTA like “Get started,” that sends readers directly to a product sign up page, we can either have a free course on how to send the best outreach email or give readers free email outreach templates. It could also be good to A/B test resources and see which resonates the most for each article.

The goal then is not to have someone immediately sign up to use our product from a blog post, but rather have them sign up for our free resource.

Conversion rates tend to be higher when you approach your blog CTA’s like this. You could even go as far as having your free resource gated as a lead generation tactic. This gated course can then only be opened if someone gives us an email (for retargeting purposes) or if someone creates a free account for your SaaS.

So, the conversion flow for a blog post could look like:

  • Inspirational blog article → Free resource → Sign up for product

Instead of:

  • Inspirational blog article → Sign up for product

The free resource acts as a bridge to increasing conversions.

Here's an example for how HubSpot does it with templates:

HubSpot blog template CTA
You can check it out here.

Here's an example for how Webflow does it with courses:

Webflow blog course CTA
You can check it out here.

Here's how DoNotPay does it with product experiences:

DoNotPay blog CTA
You can check it out here.

Pretty cool, eh?

Lots of big SaaS companies are now doing this.

Again, I need to stress that there’s a lot of nuance here. This flow will look different for each company.

This style of CTA may not work for every blog post. It may be that this only makes sense for 10% of your articles. You’ll need good judgment as a content marketer when it comes to knowing what resources will be relevant for what blog posts.

Hopefully this gives you some inspiration on strategies you can use to increase conversions from blog posts.

Time to results

Lastly, for blog posts, don’t expect results in a couple months. Blogging with SEO will take a long time, sometimes up to a year to see meaningful results. To increase your results, you should be posting lots of quality content and SEO optimized blog posts. It’s not a quality vs quantity thing, but rather a quality and quantity thing. It’s just how content is these days. You need to pay to play with Google.

Try to aim to publish one to five blog posts a week for decent results. The closer to five the better. If you’re following a proper keyword strategy, you should start seeing some good results after your first 50 published articles.

I know, it’s not easy. Hence, why not every company does it.

But once you do have a bunch of high ranking articles on your website, it can act as a MOAT for your startup. Just look at HubSpot’s blog, they literally rank in the top results for most marketing related topics — creating defensibility against their competitors.

8. Distributing your content

A mentor of mine once told me, “going from zero to one is really hard. Make sure you piggyback on something.”

What he meant was to initially grow on top of other platforms. Look at this:

  • Quora, Pinterest, and Medium grew from Google SEO
  • Webflow initially grew from a post on Hacker News
  • Gymshark grew from Instagram
  • Thousands of media companies are growing from Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok

In content marketing, there’s often a misconception that you first need to create content then distribute it. But really the distribution strategy should come before you even create content.

Today, there are so many platforms that curate content. The big platforms also have algorithms to determine what content they should show, and to who they should show it to.

If you want your content to distribute itself organically, play to the algorithms.

I know some people want to throw their middle finger up to algorithms. But it’s about creating content for humans and robots. That’s the stuff that reaches the most people.

You’d be doing a disservice to those who need your content if you don’t create it in a way that content platforms would want to push.

This is why I focus so heavily on SEO for SaaS companies. We are trying to go from zero to one by leveraging Google. It’s literally the first search engine most people go to to look up stuff.

If you’re just starting out it’s good to start with one marketing channel and master it. From there you can lay other marketing channels on top to maximize results.

In the case of our fake company, ReachThem, I would start with SEO — creating all the pages we talked about earlier. Then, I would go to social media to “remix” this content. By remixing I mean repurposing.

Say we have a blog post titled 10 best outreach tools to try in 2022. After some time, you can go to Twitter and create a tweet thread with a summary of the blog post. In the last Tweet, you can link out to your blog post for people to learn more.

But, be careful.

Social media for SaaS companies should not be a place where you just share your blog posts and company updates. People browsing on social media don’t care about that stuff. People on social media want to be entertained, inspired, and/or educated. Lead with those in mind.

Play to each channel's algorithm. Create inspiring and educational content on Instagram. Create informational content on Twitter. Create short-form videos on TikTok. Create long-form videos on YouTube. You get the point.

The distribution will take care of itself if you’re creating content that plays to a platform's algorithm. The algorithm will depend on things like what the platform wants to show its users and how engaging it is for those users.

With YouTube, if you have a high CTR (click through rate) title and thumbnail, and your video has a high watch time, it’s inevitable that it will get views. With Google, if you target the right keywords and make sure all your content is SEO optimized, it’s inevitable that you’ll get some website visitors. If you create high quality Reels on Instagram (because that’s what they’re pushing a lot right now), it’s inevitable that you’ll get views.

Places to distribute content

Okay, but what if you just started creating content and want some tactics to promote stuff? Sure, let’s go over some things you can do to help kickstart some of these channels:

  • Guest posting: Guest blogging can seriously help you get more visitors to your website, while also giving you backlinks to increase your domain authority and rank higher in search engines. Here is a great guide for how to do it. You can also appear on podcasts as a guest to help drive traffic and backlinks.
  • Email marketing: If you have a skilled email or lifecycle marketer on your team they can leverage your content lifecycle diagram to send your existing website content to the right people at the right time.
  • Brand partnerships: Do co-marketing campaigns with other brands in your industry. This could be in the form of guest blogging, sharing each other's content on social media, newsletter partnerships, giveaways, and more.
  • Ads and sponsorships: If budget allows, you can “boost” content on Facebook, buy clicks on Google, run display ads, or buy sponsorship placements with media companies.

There are many clever ways to promote your website. I wrote a more in depth article on it if you want to check it out.

Anyways, I hope this section makes you think a bit differently about distribution. Again, it’s about piggybacking on a platform and playing to its algorithm. Don’t play on hard mode.

9. Creating a system around OKRs

OKRs, or objective and key results, is a goal setting system used by a lot of successful companies. It’s about having a clearly defined business goal and creating steps to hit it.

In the example of our our fake company, ReachThem, we can have a quarterly content marketing OKR goal set up like this:

  • Objective: Drive 500 sign ups from SEO
  • Key results: Publish 5 use case pages, Publish 3 VS pages, Publish 50 SEO optimized blog posts

The “objective” is the output we want to achieve. The “key results” are the inputs needed to hit the objective.

You might ask, how do we know all of our inputs will create 500 sign ups? Well, I made that number up. But this all comes down to attribution (more on that in the next section).

It will be hard to create clear OKRs when you’re first starting out. What you need is a lot of data to then create data-informed goals.

For the example of ReachThem (remember, I’m making this up), we can see that last quarter we drove 400 sign ups from SEO. So we need to double down on SEO. For this quarter, we set the goal to 500 sign ups (a 25% increase QoQ) and made an informed assumption that our inputs will help us achieve the 500 sign ups goal.

The thing with OKRs is that they are just guardrails to make sure we don’t lose focus during the quarter and remember why we are doing the things we are on a day-to-day basis.

It takes a skilled leader, with years of experience, to have a good eye for what the objective for the quarter should be. A content marketer shouldn’t necessarily come up with the objective. But they can help the leader figure out what inputs (key results) they believe will help reach the objective.

The OKR is also known as a “stretch goal.” If you don’t hit 100% of the goal it’s okay. You’re not really supposed to hit, or exceed, the goal. Hitting 70% of the goal is okay, hitting 80% of the goal is good, and hitting 90% of the goal is great.

If you’re hitting less than 70% of the OKR then it’s either a problem of not setting the right objective or having the wrong inputs. On the same token, if you hit way beyond 100% of the goal, you probably set the wrong objective. This is why it takes some time to nail down your OKRs. You need a lot of trial and error, and data, to create effective OKRs.

If you’re looking for some examples, here’s a list of over 180 marketing OKR examples you can check out to get some inspiration.

10. ROI and tracking

When it comes to growth from content marketing, metrics and attribution are everything. If you don’t understand how your content is leading to sign ups then you’re going to have a hard time knowing what to work on.

The only issue with attribution is it can get messy.

Cookie laws in different countries, Apple removing ad tracking, word of mouth that can’t be tracked properly — all of these can make it difficult to know what’s actually going on.

What we can do is do our best with the tools we have.

My personal favorite tools for tracking website content are Mixpanel and Amplitude. I’ve used both and both are great. Mixpanel is a bit more user friendly, while Amplitude is very engineering heavy and can have a steep learning curve. But they both essentially do the same thing.

Now you might be asking, “what about Google Analytics?” That’s a great tool as well. You should have that, or an alternative, set up on your website.

A tool like GA (Google Analytics) and Google Search Console are good for tracking how many people are visiting your website, and from where.

A tool like Mixpanel and Amplitude are in-product marketing analytics tools. These tools help you understand user behavior. You’ll be able to better track how people browse on your website, what resources they download or check out, and what leads them to sign up and subscribe to your SaaS.

For example, if you set up event tracking correctly in Mixpanel, you’ll be able to tell which blog posts drive the most sign ups. You’ll also be able to tell which sign ups came directly from SEO or other social media platforms.

GA and Search Console track website visitors, Mixpanel or Amplitude track what people do on your website.

Hope that makes sense.

To set up Mixpanel, or Amplitude, you’re going to need a tech savvy person. At large startups, either engineers or growth product teams set these up. It’s a process that can take some time as you’ll need to create event triggers for each action and write a bit of code. Plus, you’ll need some QA’ing and time to pass to make sure the data is flowing through correctly and there are no attribution errors.

Some metrics you’ll want to track:

  • Overall website visitors (Google Analytics)
  • Website visitors from SEO (Google Search Console and maybe Ahrefs)
  • Keyword ranking (Ahrefs, or a good rank tracking tool)
  • Sign ups from different pages (Mixpanel or Amplitude)
  • Paying subscribers from different pages (Mixpanel or Amplitude)
  • Newsletter subscribers, if applicable (Mixpanel or Amplitude)
  • Any resources that can be accessed or downloaded (Mixpanel or Amplitude)

Hopefully that gives you some clarity on what and how to track. I know I didn’t go over exactly how to set these up, because it’s quite complex and would be a mega blog post on its own. Who knows, depending on when you’re reading this I might have released a blog post on it.

Great, you’re on your way to creating an outstanding content marketing operation. Lastly, you’ll need some people to help. Content creation is HARD and takes a lot of effort to do correctly.

11. Scaling your content team

There’s a point in every startup where the founders either have an aha-moment about the power of content or they start seeing unique visitors to their website from content they have produced.

In the nature of Capitalism: more, more, and more!

I’m only half-joking. *gives side-eye*

This is where scaling your content team is going to help accelerate your ROI.

I’m going to get some hate for saying this but I feel it’s the truth that I’ve personally experienced.

As someone who’s worked as a marketing manager at a marketing agency, in-house at a few SaaS companies, and even worked with other marketing agencies while being in-house, I can tell you that in-house teams always beat outsourced teams.

If you’re working at a marketing agency and reading this please don’t hate me. Take it as inspiration to prove me wrong. I know I’m overgeneralizing here.

There’s a level of understanding about your product and brand that content marketing agencies just can’t reach. They can’t afford to because they have other clients to worry about.

The best content marketing teams I’ve seen first have one or more in-house content manager(s), editor(s), and copywriter(s) that then work with freelancers, and external contributors, to help accelerate content output.

As a content marketing manager, you want to get good at knowing what content works for your company, what that content should look like, and how to get the right person to produce it.

In the case of use case pages, VS pages, and a few product-oriented blog posts, you’ll want someone in-house driving strategy and production of your content marketing efforts.

The scaling comes best when you’re trying to cast your net far and target more keywords with blog posts. This is when you can hire freelance writers and editors to help you.

If you don’t have the budget, you can have people internally at your company help create content if they’re subject matter experts. But don’t rely on this.

More often than not, a coworker gets excited about contributing to their company blog but then their own work demands get in the way. It causes too much back and forth and delays in your content calendar. If you’re a small startup this may not be the case. But if you have say over 100 employees at your company, it can be an unreliable strategy and causes unnecessary headaches.

So, here’s how to scale your content team.

Hiring for content

Have at least one content marketing manager in-house that drives strategy. If possible, also get at least one copywriter and editor to help write and publish content to your CMS.

From there, begin to hire just one freelance writer to get a feel for it. There are plenty of great places to find freelance writers. Content Writing Jobs, ProBlogger, and Upwork are a few good ones.

For freelance writers, find about three candidates on a writing job posting site and give each candidate the same exact topic. Pick the writer that you deem did the best job.

You can also hire a freelance editor and train them on your brand and voice guidelines to make sure your content is clean before it goes out. The content marketing manager can also do this, but they will quickly become the bottleneck if you’re trying to output several pieces of content a week (speaking from experience).

For the editor, find three candidates and give them all the same blog post draft to edit. Just like the writer, pick the editor you deem did the best job.

Over time, you’ll create a nice network of freelance writers and editors you can tap into whenever you want to scale up or down your content output.

If hiring writers seems intimidating at first, you can also outsource your content creation to a company that already has a network of freelance writers. I wrote a list of some seo content writing services you can check out.

Most of these content writing services charge you by word count. For reference, you can find freelance writers ranging from $0.05 a word to over $1 a word. It all depends on if the writer is proficient in English and their experience level. Experience can be in the form of industry, topical experience, and number of good articles they’ve written for other companies. In the case of content writing services, most will run you about $0.10 a word.

Scaling a content team will look different for each company. Some will have more people in-house, some will outsource a large portion of their team, and some will even outsource their entire team.

If you want to completely outsource your team it can be pricey, but we can do it for you (contract-free) if it's something you're looking for.

Okay, that’s it.

Conclusion

Woah, that was a lot. If you made it this far, I’m impressed.

As a recap, we went over:

  • Defining your business goals
  • Gathering customer intel
  • Creating a content marketing plan
  • Stages of content marketing
  • The “who I am and what I do”
  • The “how to use me”
  • The “why you should use me”
  • The content lifecycle diagram
  • Types of content to create
  • Use case pages
  • VS pages
  • Blog posts
  • Social media posts
  • Doing keyword research (the right way)
  • Setting up your website for success
  • Conversions
  • Distributing your content
  • Places to distribute your content
  • Creating a system around OKRs
  • ROI and tracking
  • Scaling your content team
  • Hiring for content
  • Conclusion

It was a lot, so feel free to refer back to whatever section you want to review.

I hope this article helps you out in some way. Whether it taught you what content to create, how to think about distribution, or places to find outsourced writers, I hope you learned something.

As a closing shameless plug, I run this website. It’s called Marketer Milk and the goal is to curate all of the best marketing content from around the world to help people become better marketers.

If that sounds interesting to you, feel free to check out our homepage and subscribe to our newsletter if you dare to.

Also, if you want to roast me, feel free to email us here.

Until next time, much love — peace out!

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